January is hardly known as “tornado season,” but conditions were ripe to brew a deadly batch of them in the Southeastern U.S. over the weekend.
A total of 35 tornadoes have been reported during the past 48 hours, according to the University of Michigan Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering resource, www.tornadopaths.org – including in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.
More severe weather is expected into Sunday night for central and southern Georgia, norther and west-central Florida and central and southern South Carolina, with “numerous tornadoes, several intense and long track widespread damaging winds [and] scattered large hail” possible, according to the National Weather Service.
At least 4 people in Mississippi and another 12 in Georgia have died so far. Meteorologist Eric Holthaus says the outbreak of storms on Sunday were particularly hazardous not because of overall wind speeds, but of the storm’s motion of 70 to 90 mph.
“Little time to react,” he noted on Twitter.
The resulting damage in Georgia has led Governor Nathan Deal to declare a state of emergency for seven south-central counties in his state.
“These storms have devastated communities and homes in South Central Georgia, and the state is making all resources available to the impacted areas,” Mr. Deal said in a statement. “These storms have resulted in loss of life, numerous injuries and extensive property damage.”
People close to the action shared photos and videos of the storms themselves, as well as the damage they caused.
Officials have not yet assessed the totality of the damage. However, benchmarked against prior weather events of this scope, this cost of these storms could measure between hundreds of millions to more than a billion dollars. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes accounted for 7 of the nation’s 15 billion-dollar weather events in 2016.